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5 from 1 vote

Ropa Vieja Recipe

Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes.” This Cuban recipe is shredded beef dish that is braised in a tomatoes and spices. Serve it over rice with a side of maduros.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 50 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Cuban
Servings: 6
Calories: 97kcal
Cost: $12


For the Braised Beef: 

  • 2 pounds flank steak or brisket or top round cut into 4 chunks 
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small red or purple cabbage quartered 
  • 1/2 small bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 dried bay leaves

For the Ropa Vieja: 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers stemmed, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Juice from 1 lime 
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish


To Make the Braised Beef:

  • Place the ingredients for the beef in a Dutch oven with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, covered, until the beef is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you’re using top round, it’ll take about 2 1/2 hours to be tender. 
  • Remove the pot from the heat and allow the beef to cool in the broth, so it will stay moist and juicy. Reserve about 3/4 cups of broth. Drain the beef and transfer to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the beef apart. Set the shredded beef aside. 

To Make the Ropa Vieja:

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (you can use the one you used to cook the beef, no need to rinse it out either). Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic, salt and spices.
  • Add the reserved broth, crushed tomato, lime juice, and bay leaf and return to a simmer. Stir in the shredded beef, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to your liking. Serve over rice and top with a sprinkling of parsley. 


To Serve: 
Serve this ropa vieja with rice, black beans and maduros (sautéed plantains). 
To Freeze: 
This dish freezes really well. To freeze this ropa vieja, allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze up to 3 months. 
Dutch Oven | Tongs | Rice Cooker


Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1242IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg